For higher education, countries across the globe conduct various entrance exams to recruit students. Entrance exams are divided by the programs and universities, and GRE is one of them. It is required to take admission in universities or business schools. As per the data issued by ETS, from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2018, about 2 million people have taken the test.

Our GRE preparation blog is for those who are wondering how to start preparing for GRE. The blog provides you with complete detail about GRE, GRE preparation tips, subjects, exam structure, study material, and the registration process.

What is the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a computer-based standardized test that is designed and controlled by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Along with the USA, UK, Canada, and Germany, more than 180 other countries conduct the GRE.

A U.S. based education policy and research centre, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) established GRE in 1936. It measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking.

Syllabus & Structure of GRE

GRE is to measure your quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. It is consists of three main topics Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative reasoning, and Analytical Writing skill. Here are the contents and structure of all these topics cover:

1. Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning measures the ability to analyze passages, summarize main ideas, identify critical points, and understand the meanings of words, sentences, and complete passages. Below are the topics it covers:

a) Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension questions are designed to test a wide range of abilities that are required to read and understand the kinds of prose commonly encountered in graduate school. The section comprises of the following:

  • 1 Long passage of 4 questions
  • 5-6 Short passages of 1-2 questions each
  • 2-3 Medium passages of 2-3 questions each
  • 3-4 Critical Reasoning questions (short paragraphs)

b) Sentence Equivalence

There are approximately 8-9 questions of sentence equivalence in GRE. Sentence Equivalence questions test the ability to conclude how a passage should be completed based on partial information, but to a greater extent they focus on the meaning of the completed whole

c) Text Completions (T.C.)

  • 2-4 single-blank T.Cs
  • 4-6 double-blank T.Cs
  • 2-4 triple-blank T.Cs

2. Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning assesses your ability to problem-solve using mathematical formulas. Below is the structure of it:

a) Algebra

  • Expressions and equations
  • Variables and constants
  • Inequalities
  • Functions
  • Coordinate systems
  • Coordinate geometry
  • Lines and slopes
  • Factorization

b) Arithmetic

  • Basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
  • Integers, fractions, and decimals
  • PEMDAS (order of operations)
  • Exponents and square roots
  • Absolute values
  • Prime numbers
  • Even and odd numbers
  • Percents and per cent changes
  • Sequences
  • Ratios, proportions, and cross multiplication

c) Data Analysis

  • Distribution of data and frequency
  • Graphical representations of data, including bar graphs, pie charts, scatterplots, time plots, and histograms
  • Statistics, including mean (average), median, mode, and range
  • Quartiles and percentiles
  • Standard deviation
  • Factorials, permutations, and combinations
  • Probability
  • Bell curve and normal distribution

d) Geometry

  • Lines, parallel lines, and perpendicular lines
  • Relationships among angles
  • Types of angles
  • Polygons, including triangles, rectangles, squares, trapezoids, and parallelograms
  • special right triangles and the Pythagorean theorem
  • Circles
  • Arcs and sectors
  • 3-D objects, including rectangular solids and right circular cylinders
  • Perimeter, area, circumference, volume, and surface area
  • Similar shapes
  • Inscribed shapes

3. Analytical Writing Skill

An analytical writing test is to measure your critical thinking ability and analytical writing skills. You will be asked to write two separate essays on “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument.” You will be allotted 30 min for each task and to assess your writing skills and ability to present ideas clearly.

Test Pattern of GRE

GRE is conducted both in the online and paper-delivered medium. Though the pattern of both the medium is almost similar, there are some small notable differences

a) Pattern for Paper-delivered GRE general test

Section Number of Questions Time
Analytical Writing (Two sections) Section 1: “Analyze an Issue” task
Section 2: “Analyze an Argument” task
30 minutes per section
Verbal Reasoning (Two sections) 25 questions per section 35 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections) 25 questions per section 40 minutes per section

b) Pattern for Online GRE general test

Section Number of Questions Time
Analytical Writing (One section with two separately timed tasks) One “Analyze an Issue” task
One “Analyze an Argument” task
30 minutes per task
Verbal Reasoning (Two sections) 20 questions per section 30 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections) 20 questions per section 35 minutes per section
Unscored or Research Section* Varies Varies

How to start preparing for GRE?

Be it GRE or any other exam following the psychometric test pattern the steps that are mentioned below will give you a kick start in your preparation.

1. Make the study plan

Making a study plan will make your preparation easy. It will give you a direction to start preparing for GRE. You should make your plan according to the exam date, your current level, and the GRE score.

 2. Get familiarize with the format and make the schedule

Understand the formatting of the examination, questions, and scoring and set up your schedule accordingly. It is important to get a clear idea about the format of the exam to make the preparation less stressful.

3. Do not start your preparation two weeks before the exam date

GRE is not a cakewalk, and believe us, two weeks are not enough to prepare for GRE. It is not designed is such a way that two-week practice will improve your score.

You need to practice for at least 8-10 weeks before the exam. Do not wait for the weekends to come; you will need to study five days a week to improve your score. Take a practice test right now and check your GRE score. If it does not look like what you expected, start practising.

4. Do not focus on only one particular section

This is quite a typical problem with most of the GRE aspirants, and they only focus on the section they find difficult. It is crucial to balance your study and give equal time to other sections too.

If you find one section more robust, you can give more time and effort to it, but underestimation of other sections can affect your GRE score.

5. Do not undertake the Quant

One other assumption about the GRE is that students think Quant is easier than verbal, which is far from the truth. Quant is not the maths you studied in your schools, and it is not easy either way.

Quantitative Reasoning Section Composites of statistics, geometry, algebra, data interpretation, ratio, fraction, and word problem. It is important to prepare well for the Quant along with verbal even though you think it is a cakewalk.

6. Take a full-length GRE practice test

Take a full-length GRE to practise test to find out your current Quant and verbal score. A full-length practice test does not only show your score but also your week and well-performed areas. The result will help you to plan and schedule your study plan, and the practice test will familiarize you with the GRE format and timing. You can visit ETS, Magoosh, or Kaplan for a free practice test to check your GRE score.

7. Utilize the internet

More than half of the knowledge and preparation help you will find on the internet. Visit Magoosh, Kaplan, or ETS website for study material, videos, practice tests, sample tests, exam tips, question banks, and classes.

8. Study with the right resources

Studying with the right resources is essential. Before you start preparing, make sure you start with the right study materials and books. Some recommended study materials are:

a). Online Resources for GRE Preparation:

  • POWER PREP Test Preview Tool: It is a free overview of GRE structure, tools, and other related information tools. You can access Power Prep through your ETS account.
  • ETS official guide to the GRE: It is a self-written book by GRE makers that every GRE aspirant must-have. It provides you with an overview of the exam pattern, questions, and four practice papers (2 papers and 2 CD-based).
  • Manhattan Prep series: It is a series of eight books that cover every topic, including Algebra, Geometry, Word Problems, Number Properties, Fractions, Quantitative Comparisons, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence, Reading Comprehension and Analytical Writing.
  • Magoosh GRE prep: You can visit Magoosh’s official website to prepare for GRE through videos and tutorials. Magoosh covers an extensive customized study plan. You can choose your personalized study plan according to the cost and time. Magoosh also provides you with free study resources and questions papers.
  • Kaplan GRE premier: Kaplan is a giant when it comes to standardized test preparation. Kaplan also covers all the important GRE prep topics and provides you with practice tests and GRE strategy to improve your score.

b). Best Books for GRE Quant Section

  • Manhattan 5LB Book of Practice Problems
  • ETS Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
  • GRE Math Prep Course from Nova’s GRE Prep Course
  • Kaplan GRE Math Workbook

c). Best Books for GRE Verbal Section

  • ETS Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
  • GRE Verbal Grail – Aristotle Prep
  • Kaplan GRE Verbal Workbook
  • Manhattan 5LB Book of Practice Problems

d). Best Books for GRE Analytical Writing Ability (AWA) Section

  • Vibrant Publishers GRE Analytical Writing
  • ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test

e). Best Books to Learn GRE Vocabulary

  • Word Power Made Easy – Norman Lewis
  • Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know
  • Magoosh GRE Vocabulary eBook
  • Manhattan 500 Essential Words for GRE and Manhattan 500 Advanced Words for GRE

9. A day before the GRE

Do not take any stress and do not give your entire time studying; instead, take rest, go out for a walk, eat healthily, and go to bed on time. A healthy and worry-less mind will perform well than a stressful mind. You did all the best you could; now, it is time to release all the stress and focus on the exam.


GRE preparation needs practice, consistency, the right study resources, a structured study plan, and dedication. GRE is not tough if you follow all the right tactics and study dedicatedly for at least two months.

We have already mentioned the preparation tips, study material, exam structure, and the websites to get your GRE classes. Remember one thing; there is no perfect way to start or to crack any examination.

**NOTE: For more GRE related queries, please visit the official ETS website

These are a few tips to help you to prepare for the GRE, but you will have to find out which practice suits you well.